Osaka Castle, Osaka


The majestic castle-tower looked up in the sky, Osaka.
Post-1930

Street View

In 1583, Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), a powerful feudal lord and warrior during the Sengoku period, built Osaka Castle during a period of unrest which had followed numerous wars over the previous decades. Obsessed with gold, Hideyoshi insisted that gold be applied to much of the castle’s interior furnishing, with this motif also appearing on the exterior awnings to this day. Upon completion, Hideyoshi held the castle as a stronghold, which led to a secession of the wars that were raging in Japan at that time – essentially unifying the country and bringing temporary peace.

As history tends to prove, peace did not last forever, and numerous wars broke out over the coming centuries. Osaka Castle was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, and not always by war – in 1665 the main castle tower was in fact destroyed by fire as a result of a lightning storm. After this period the castle stood for another 200 years, before again being destroyed during the Boshin War. The most recent (and hopefully permanent) iteration of Osaka Castle was reconstructed in 1928
Osaka Info

In 1583, Hideyoshi began construction at the former site of Honganji Temple and completed the magnificent castle, which was reputed as being unparalleled in the country. Hideyoshi, having employed the castle as his stronghold, succeeded in quelling the wars which had continued for more than one century, thereby unifying the entire nation. After Hideyoshi’s death, Ieyasu Tokugawa, who worked for Hideyoshi as his chief retainer, was appointed to the Shogun and he established the shogunate (government) in Edo (Tokyo). In 1615, Ieyasu ruined the Toyotomi family and destroyed Osaka Castle (in the Summer War of Osaka). Thereafter, the Tokugawa shogunate reconstructed Osaka Castle. It held the castle under its direct control until 1868, when the Tokugawa shogunate lost power and the castle fell.

In 1931, the Main Tower of the Castle was reconstructed in the center of Osaka Castle, which was used as a military base, with funds raised by the citizens.
The present-day Main Tower is the third generation. It follows the Main Tower from the Toyotomi period, which was destroyed by fire during the Summer War, and the tower from the Tokugawa period, which was struck by lightning and was burned down.
Osaka Castle

Wikipedia.

Balcomie Castle, Crail


Balcomie Castle — Crail

Street View

Balcomie Castle is a 16th Century L-plan tower house of five storeys and a garret, to which has been added an 18th century house. It consists of a main block and offset square wing, which only joins the main block at one corner. A small stair tower is corbelled out in one re-entrant angle, linking the first and second floors. Two two-storey bartizans, both with shot-holes, crown the wing’s gable. The small gatehouse also survives. There is a walled garden.

The fine plastered ceilings from here were taken to Dean Castle, near Kilmarnock. The lands were held by John de Balcomie in 1375, although nothing of the surviving castle is earlier than 16th century. The property passed in 1526 to the Learmonths of Clatto. Mary of Guise stayed at Balcomie after landing at Fifeness on her way to marry James V. Sir James Learmonth of Balcomie was one of the Fife Adventurers who, in 1598, tried to take land on Lewis and was slain for his pains. In 1705 Balcomie passed to the Hopes, then later to the Scotts of Scotstarvit, then the Erskine Earls of Kellie. The castle is now used as a farmhouse.
Scottish Castles Association

Agra Fort, India


Agra Fort – View showing Dewan Khas & Saman Burj Gaj in the distance
1910s

Cultural India: Agra Fort
Wikipedia (Agra Fort)
Maps: 1901 & 1909

Google Maps.

The “Dewan Khas” or “Private Hall of Audience” is situated at one end of a broad stone terrace overlooking the river. At the other, alas! is a vacant space; on it formerly stood a corresponding pavilion, which, according to tradition, was constructed of green marble, if there be such a substance; at all events, of some rare material. It had shared the fare of the Zenana of Akbar; it had become dilapidated; it was pulled down. The “Dewan Khas” is of white marble, a large open room, whose flat roof is supported by a double row of slender twelve-sided columns.
The Personal Adventures and Experiences of a Magistrate During the Rise, Progress, and Suppression of the Indian Mutiny (originally published 1884)

Musamman Burj was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is said that at first a small marble palace built by Akbar was situated at this site, which was later demolished by Jehangir to erect new buildings. Shah Jahan in his turn chose this site to erect the multi-storied marble tower inlaid with precious stones for Mumtaz Mahal. It was built between 1631–40 and offers exotic views of the famous Taj Mahal….It is here that Shah Jahan along with his favorite daughter Jahanara Begum had spent his last few years as a captive of his son Aurangzeb. He lay here on his death bed while gazing at the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Wikipedia (Musamman Burj)


Interior of Dewan Khas and its inscription (Agra Fort)
Postmarked & letter dated 1905

Read moreAgra Fort, India

Brühl’s Terrace, Dresden, Germany


Treppe zur Brühl schen Terrasse

Steps to Bruhl’s Terrace. Google Street View

This is older postcard. It’s got the space for a message on the front and an undivided back, so before 1908, but I can do a bit better on the image at least.

First a brief history of the stairs (from WIkipedia because it gives the best summary I’ve so far come across).

After the Saxon defeat at the Battle of Leipzig and the occupation by Russian troops, military governor Prince Nikolai Grigorjevich Repnin-Wolkonski ordered the opening [of the terrace] to the public in 1814. He charged the architect Gottlob Friedrich Thormeyer with the building of a flight of stairs at the western end to reach the terrace from Castle Square and Augustus Bridge. The Brühl Palace was demolished in the course of the building of the Saxon Ständehaus in 1900.

The ensemble was totally destroyed in February 1945 when the city centre was heavily hit by the Allied Bombing of Dresden during the end phase of World War II. Today, it has been rebuilt; the precise amount restored is difficult to say as a percentage, but in general one can say the emsemble looks very much the same today as it did in the past.

Read moreBrühl’s Terrace, Dresden, Germany

Pallazzo Pitti/Pitti Palace, Florence


Firenze – Palazzo Pitti

Google Street View (location)

The Palazzo Pitti, in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast, mainly Renaissance, palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio. The core of the present palazzo dates from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker. The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions. In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. The palace and its contents were donated to the Italian people by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1919.

Wikipedia

The palace, which houses several important museums, was built in the second half of the 15th century probably on a project of Filippo Brunelleschi for Luca Pitti, but was unfinished at his death in 1472. The original building, formed by two floors and the ground floors, with only five windows on each tloor, was purchased in 1550 by Eleonora da Toledo, the wife of the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’Medici, thus becoming the official residence of the family. For this reason it was widened and changed, in 1560 by Bartolomeo Ammannati and at the beginning of the 17th century by Giulio and Alfonso Parigi.
Museums of Florence

Purchased in 1550, the Palace was chosen by Cosimo I de’ Medici and his wife Eleanor of Toledo as the new Grand Ducal residence, and it soon became the new symbol of the Medici’s power over Tuscany. It was also the royal palace of other two dynasties: the House of Lorraine-Habsburg (which succeeded the Medici from 1737) and the Kings of Italy of the House of Savoy, who inhabited it from 1865. Nonetheless the palace still bears the name of its first owner, the Florentine banker Luca Pitti that in the mid-1400s started its construction – maybe after a design by Brunelleschi – at the foot of the Boboli hill beyond the Arno river.
Uffizi Galleries

Caernarfon Castle, Wales


Carnarvon Castle
Postmarked 1910.

Approximately here.

Caernarfon Castle (Welsh: Castell Caernarfon) – often anglicized as Carnarvon Castle or Caernarvon Castle – is a medieval fortress in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, north-west Wales cared for by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service. It was a motte-and-bailey castle in the town of Caernarfon from the late 11th century until 1283 when King Edward I of England began replacing it with the current stone structure. The Edwardian town and castle acted as the administrative centre of north Wales and as a result the defences were built on a grand scale. There was a deliberate link with Caernarfon’s Roman past and the Roman fort of Segontium is nearby.

While the castle was under construction, town walls were built around Caernarfon. The work cost between £20,000 and £25,000 from the start until the end of work in 1330. Despite Caernarfon Castle’s external appearance of being mostly complete, the interior buildings no longer survive and many of the building plans were never finished. The town and castle were sacked in 1294 when Madog ap Llywelyn led a rebellion against the English. Caernarfon was recaptured the following year. During the Glyndŵr Rising of 1400–1415, the castle was besieged. When the Tudor dynasty ascended to the English throne in 1485, tensions between the Welsh and English began to diminish and castles were considered less important. As a result, Caernarfon Castle was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. Despite its dilapidated condition, during the English Civil War Caernarfon Castle was held by Royalists, and was besieged three times by Parliamentarian forces. This was the last time the castle was used in war. Caernarfon Castle was neglected until the 19th century when the state funded repairs.
Wikipedia